by Lisa Curtis, Maneeza Hossain
The Heritage Foundation
December 20, 2013
Bangladesh has experienced significant political tumult in the past year and there is concern that as the national election (scheduled for January 5, 2014) approaches, street violence will escalate, jeopardizing the country’s nascent democratic system. While the threat from terrorism had diminished to some extent under the government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, the recent execution of a leading Islamist politician and the sentencing to death of other opposition leaders accused of war crimes during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971 have unleashed furor among Islamists. If Bangladeshi leaders undermine the democratic process, the Islamist agenda, and extremist ideologies in general, would likely find greater appeal among the Bangladeshis. The U.S. has a strong interest in ensuring that Bangladesh—the fourth-largest Muslim-majority country in the world—remains stable and on a path of democratic reform and economic development.